McLatchy examines Lara’s song!


Schieffer sang it too: McLatchy, the last of America’s news orgs, has done a long analysis of Lara Logan’s horrific Benghazi report.

For Kevin Drum’s summary, just click here. For McLatchy’s report, click this.

We were very much struck by Drum’s summary of the McLatchy report.

“McClatchy's Nancy Youssef takes a deep dive through Logan's story and finds problems with nearly everything she reported,” Drum writes. “In particular, Logan's repeated insistence that the attack was a well-planned Al-Qaeda assault is questionable at best.”

Drum presented excerpts from Youssef’s report. We flashed back to last year:
YOUSSEF (11/14/13): The report repeatedly referred to al Qaida as solely responsible for the attack on the compound and made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that controls and provides much of the security in restive Benghazi and that has long been suspected in the attack....It is an important distinction, experts on those groups said. Additionally, al Qaida’s role, if any, in the attack has not been determined, and Logan’s narration offered no source for her repeated assertion that it had been.

....Logan claimed that “it’s now well established that the Americans were attacked by al Qaida in a well-planned assault.” But al Qaida has never claimed responsibility for the attack, and the FBI, which is leading the U.S. investigation, has never named al Qaida as the sole perpetrator. Rather, it is believed a number of groups were part of the assault, including members and supporters of al Qaida and Ansar al Shariah, as well as attackers angered by a video made by an American that insulted Prophet Muhammad....Moreover, questions remain over how far in advance the attack on the U.S. compound had been planned. Rather than a long-planned attack, investigators have told McClatchy it was likely planned hours, rather than days, in advance.
It's all there! Did al Qaeda stage the attack? Had the attack been preplanned for months? (Was it designed to coincide with 9/11?) Was it crazy to think that it might have been triggered by that anti-Muslim video, which had set off protests all over the Muslim world?

Logan aired the latest horrific report. But all these questions were instantly bungled by CBS New and the rest of the “press corps” in the aftermath of the attack last year.

This includes our “liberal” news orgs, who proved to be utterly worthless.

Logan didn’t start this. The poisonous flap surrounding Susan Rice turned on the matters highlighted in Drum’s excerpt, matters which are only now being clarified. And please note:

CBS News was completely unable to handle these basic questions last year. The reason for that is simple:

Our culture is an intellectual wreck. This includes all major sectors, including our utterly silent professors. But we’ve reached the point where our major “journalists” have absolutely no intellectual skills.

They can’t paraphrase what someone said. They can’t identify relevant facts. Basically, they don’t know how to read.

These facts became abundantly clear in the months of attacks on Rice.

Last year, we presented months of posts about the Susan Rice flap. From Day One, the “press corps” was completely unable to paraphrase or report what she actually said on the September 16 Sunday programs, performances for which she was crucified.

From Day One, “journalists” offered bungled accounts of what Rice had said on those programs. With lightning speed, those bungled accounts hardened, then turned to stone.

At CBS, Bob Schieffer was especially helpless. But he had plenty of company all across the press.

As Rice’s remarks were misreported, the flashpoints involved the degree of preplanning, the role of al Qaeda and the possible role of that video. Fifteen months later, it falls to McLatchy to straighten these basic points out.

Fifteen months later!

Basically, American “journalists” possess no intellectual skills. Whatever skills they may have had are gone. They can now do only one thing:

They can memorize scripts.

Last year, in the wake of Benghazi, the script they memorized came from the RNC. This was similar to what happened in 1999 and 2000, when the mainstream press corps memorized a bunch of scripts calling Candidate Gore a liar.

For two solid years during that campaign, the liberal world failed to challenge those bogus scripts. They engaged in the same conduct last year when Rice was being attacked.

Alas! Your heroes in the liberal world have no basic skills either! As in 1999, so too last year—they seemed to have no idea how to attack a bogus script.

When Gore was attacked for two years, no one knew how to respond. Last year, MSNBC ran and hid as Rice’s statements were thoroughly jumbled.

Everyone ran except Chris Hayes. In October, he went on the air and recited the RNC scripts!

Is Rachel Maddow a former Rhodes Scholar? She ran and hid while Rice was attacked. For two months, the darling child didn’t say a word in Rice's defense. But then, Maddow is largely a fraud. She’s one of the biggest fakes in the history of TV stardom.

At long last, McLatchy is reviewing the crap we discussed for months last year. All those posts sit in our archives, where they did no good.

All last autumn, the “mainstream press” recited a pile of bogus scripts. Memorization of such script is their last remaining skill.

They kept it up for months. Because they also have no skills, the children who pose as liberal stars didn’t know how to respond.

A worm has eaten American brains. If you haven’t noticed that problem yet, your brains have fed the worms too.

Please note: Paraphrase is one of the most basic journalistic skills. You really can't do a news report unless you know how to do it.

Paraphrase is an extremely basic skill. But our “journalists” don't know how to do it, and we've seen no one take notice.


  1. I think this is happening because students in school are taught to focus on broad concepts instead of specifics. The primary method of teaching has shifted from reading and lecture to discussion and students are encouraged to talk, regardless of whether they have read or know anything on a topic. The consequence is that life is viewed as a narrative and the goal of writing is seen as reciting those broad understandings, whether they match the details or facts of a situation or not. In education at all levels, nothing matters except engagement -- which loosely translates to "do the kids like learning and are they paying attention" and with no form of discipline permitted to teachers, they can only engage student attention by entertaining them. So narratives must be stimulating.

    1. I don't know that I agree with your theory. In the 1980s I graduated from a good journalism school, although I never worked in journalism. I was taught how to write well, but part of that lesson was how to craft a narrative. The media are in business, after all, and it's important that they present stories in an interesting fashion in order to garner an audience.
      The problem is that with the time constraints of the media and the general laziness of human beings, it's much easier to cherry-pick facts (or "facts" that have been made up) to fit a narrative than it is to give a full presentation of often contradictory facts in order to paint a fair picture of the actual circumstances.

      I agree with you that the media sells us life as a narrative, but I don't think that it's a result of the general education system. I think that it's a result of our hard-wiring as human beings -- it's just easier for us to process stories than it is to acknowledge the complex and often random nature of life.

    2. Bill Keller and his type are the gatekeepers. They are nice guys and pretty fair-minded and smart, but they are passé. Glenn Greenwald can run loops around him intellectually. The old guard is still of a hierarchical orthodoxy and just can't get that it's all a house of cards.
      I appreciate like hell what TDH has been doing and I doubt it has been all in vain. The sustained criticism may yet effect change. I would have loved to have had TDH back in the nineties when the NYT was abetting the rabid right in taking out the Clinton's.

    3. I happen to agree with everything you wrote. In fact, TDH has been maybe the most influential source for me in what has been a 10-year-long conversion from conservative Republican to Democrat.

      I can't for the life of me understand how no one of any consequence acknowledges this stuff, although I think that Chomsky (whom Bob sometimes references) probably has explained that, to a large degree.

  2. Hey, Bob. Why not tell your loyal followers what Rice actually said on that fateful Sunday as she made the rounds so they can decide for themselvers whether this McLatchy story actually vindicates her.

    Here is what she said, verbatim. that Sunday to Chris Wallace:

    "The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack. That what happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video. People gathered outside the embassy and then it grew very violent. Those with extremist ties joined the fray and came with heavy weapons, which unfortunately are quite common in post-revolutionary Libya and that then spun out of control. But we don't see at this point signs this was a coordinated plan, premeditated attack."

    In real time, your only defense for that was that Rice dutifully used fudge words when she said it was "our best assessment."

    1. It's a good thing you're anonymous, anon 7:59. I wouldn't want to have my name associated with such idiocy. I'm gonna decide for myself thanks: it vindicates her. "Fudge words" meaning the consensus of the intelligence community.

    2. Evidently, the consensus must have been everyone but the guy running the CIA at the time.

    3. "the best information and the best assessment we have today"… hey, you're right, I've decided for myself. Bob is absolutely correct.

    4. Right. Just round up a whole bunch of guys off the street who happen to have military grade grenade and rocket launchers and let's go blow up the U.S. compound while a demonstration that never happened was going on.

      Nothing premeditated or pre-planned about that.

      Talk about tribalism. Can you imagine if this had happened on Bush's watch and a member of his adminstration made the rounds of Sunday TV talk shows with this nonsense?

      The roles would be exactly reversed, and it would be the likes of Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity defending the poor sap with the lame "well she said it was the best information and best assessment we have today. So what if it turned out to be hogwash?"

    5. By the way, in case we have forgotten, on the day after this attack, Obama himself was calling it "an act of terror." Rachel Maddow that evening was repeating what was already being reported: That this was a pre-meditated attack carried out by several carloads of militia terrorists who suddenly arrived at the compound and carried out a coordinated attack.

      I was stunned the following Sunday to hear Rice call it a spontaneous outburst from a demonstration over the video with no premeditation or preplanning.

      You might ask yourself if that was "the best assessment today" then how the heck did Rachel Maddow and the rest of the media get it right four days earlier?

    6. "I was stunned the following Sunday to hear Rice call it a spontaneous outburst from a demonstration over the video with no premeditation or preplanning."

      Nope, she said that "our best judgement" -- (meaning what the intelligence community thought happened; and which has been uncontradicted as being what official intelligence thought at that time, as opposed to being merely executive office spin) -- what was appeared to be INITIALLY a spontaneous outburst over a video, was then hijacked by armed extremists who arrived and escalated it into a terror attack.

      So, no "it" -- meaning the attack -- was not called a "spontaneous outburst" at all.

      Except by lying douchebags such as yourself.

  3. Here is what she said the same day on Meet the Press:

    "But putting together the best information that we have available to us today, our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was, in fact, initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo—almost a copycat of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course, by the video.

    "What we think then transpired in Benghazi is that opportunistic extremist elements came to the consulate as this was unfolding. They came with heavy weapons, which, unfortunately, are readily available in post-revolutionary Libya, and that escalated into a much more violent episode. Obviously, that's our best judgment now. We'll await the results of the investigation..."

  4. Well, I think it vindicates her, as I thought when Bob first posted about this.

    1. Except for one, tiny, little incovenient truth -- There never was any kind of demonstration at the compound in Benghazi that day. So basically, Rice didn't know what she was talking about when she made the rounds of talk shows that Sunday, and "that's our best judgment now" doesn't excuse the fact that she said this was a spontaneous attack that grew out of demonstrations that didn't happen.

      Now out of that molehill, the right-wing noise machine has created an entire mountain, which Lang -- military hawk shill that she is -- dutifully repeated while reporting nothing they haven't been saying for a year.

      This underscores the importance of high-level administration officials speaking only of that with they know with certainty. And as Rice herself admitted, all she was going on was "early assessments" which could later be absolutely wrong.

      Back when this was all going down, Bob's defense was "Well, she said she didn't know." And as I and others tried hard to tell him was that when you don't know, you don't talk. It is extremely difficult to walk back words once they are out of your mouth on multiple national media outlets. Simple as that. Weasel words are no excuse.

      This attack was a coordinated and planned (whether it took hours or days or weeks to plan) surprise attack by an extremely well-armed militia/warlord/terrorist cell at a diplomatic compound that was impossible to defend against short of permanently stationing a division of Marines there -- and at every similar compound around the world.

    2. Who is Lang? Are you referring to Lara Logan?

    3. "Except for one, tiny, little incovenient truth..."

      Yes, the truth that you don't care about, which was that what you call "what Rice didn't know" was what the intelligence community didn't know!

  5. Really important analysis, Bob. McClatchy as usual on such matters is thorough and completely clear and convincing. I am grateful for this post, the topic has been continually important.

    1. And I am pleased that Bob has finally discovered that there is journalism going in the United States beyond the New York Times, Washington Post and MSNBC.

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  7. And what Bob means by serious problems with "our Culture" is of course, "liberals." I guess it would never occur to him that poor CBS is under desperate pressure to gain viewers, and that the Fox Model has not exactly failed? That joe six-pack, ever more the kind of slob who still watches network TV, WANTS to see an arid, sexy babe who can't kiss up to the Military fast enough? Oh well, easier to blame it all on the liberals….

  8. Yes, it isn't Lara Logan's fault of CBS's fault -- it is all Bob's fault.

  9. What gave me a hint that this was a preplanned attack by an organized group was that two of the Americans were former SEALS who are trained to fight against quite large numbers of attackers. That the SEALS were unable to drive off the attackers indicates that this was a much more organized, trained group that a simple demonstration.

    1. Geezus, strawman much? *Nobody ever said* it was a simple demonstration. RIce said, and so did everybody else, including reporters on the ground at the time, that it was an attack that grew out of a demonstration or used a demonstration as cover.

      You people have your narrative, and you will not give it up even in the face of facts. Let's have a "controversy," shall we, about whether the sun rises in the east or not?

    2. Anon 12:30 pm, you are kind of dim. So what if it was a "preplanned" attack or not? If the Obama administration "preplanned" it, that would be significant. This was a manufactured scandal with no there there. The scandal is how the media has been so inept in covering it.

    3. If it was a "preplanned" and coordinated attack, that means Rice's statements the following Sunday were WRONG! Flat out, undeniably, never correct, WRONG and "best assessment today" is no excuse.

      Look, the right-wing's whole conspiracy theory is also WRONG! This wasn't an attack that had anything to do with Al Quida. Not all Middle Eastern terrorists are Al Quida. Hard concept for them to swallow.

      But the right-wing theory being hogwash doesn't make Rice's statements to the nation the following Sunday any less hogwash.

      Somewhere between the extremes of "spontaneous, unplanned attack growing out of a demonstration" (that never occurred in Benghazi and "Al Quida attack weeks in the planning" the truth is found.

      And high-ranking diplomats should never go on TV and say anything without absolute certainty that it is true.

      America deserves better than bullshit. Speaking for myself, I don't want "answers" and spin. I want the truth. And if you don't know it yet, say so.

    4. why is "best assessment today," given the time frame, "no excuse?" It strikes me as someone saying, in a confused situation, this is our best guess at this point. Are YOU SIX YEARS OLD? DO YOU WANT YOUR MAYPO? Rices's statement is not "Bullshit." You are a child.

    5. Because there was NO demonstration that day at the compound in Benghazi. How could it be the "best assessment today" that there was a demonstration, when there was NO demonstration?

      This is the very definition of "tribalism" again. You accept any excuse for bullshit when your side does it.

      As for child-like me, I demand better than bullshit from high government officials, regardless of who they are. If you don't know, then don't make something up and tell me it's "the best assessment today."

      Yes, the situation was confused, but not totally confused. Media was reporting within hours that this was a well-coordinated surprise attack carried out by a well-armed and trained militia. It wasn't a spontaneous attack in which angry people demonstration suddenly got out their grenade launchers and decided to blow the place up at the spur of the moment.

      Fortunately, this lightly-read blog is the only place on earth that continues to even attempt to defend Rice for spreading this fable to the public. And this is how "liberals" lose arguments -- or used to. By continuing to defend the indefensible because "our side" said it, and being unable to face up to the hard truth.

    6. Idiot, where do you get your information? Are you denying that reports of a demonstration,even if completely false (highly dubious) were widely reported and believed at that point. Do you have even the basic facts, at this late date, or are you using Glenn Beck. Who was reporting within hours that this was a well coordinated surprise attack? Where do you get this bullshit, you fool?

  10. Actually SEALS,and other spec ops forces are trained to try to avoid situations where they'd face overwhelming numbers of opposition. Indications are this got out of hand so suddenly. Too SEALS,and other spec ops forces are trained in those situations to expect certain tactics from opposition forces which thy can anticipate and take either counter or preemptive measures against. All of this suggests to me an impromptu assault which overwhelmed defenders with sheer numbers and surprise.

    1. "Surprise" assault, not "impromptu". The very well armed militia who carried out this attack knew exactly what they were doing.

  11. Thank for the McClatchy reference, Bob. The articles was excellent and so is this analysis.


  12. Good post. But it's McClatchy, not McLatchy.

  13. I could care less about the accuracy of this kept the blood thirsty R2P witch from becoming Sec of State....and then weakened her credibility when she wanted to intervene in the Syrian conflict a few months back. Those things should be celebrated.

  14. A worm has eaten American brains. If you haven’t noticed that problem yet, your brains have fed the worms too.

    What an insult. I haven't noticed because I have been to busy fighting off the anal probes from the aliens which abducted me to look for the worms.

  15. "The report repeatedly referred to al Qaida as solely responsible for the attack on the compound and made no mention of Ansar al Shariah, the Islamic extremist group that controls and provides much of the security in restive Benghazi and that has long been suspected in the attack. While the two organizations have worked together in Libya, experts said they have different aims – al Qaida has global objectives while Ansar al Shariah is focused on turning Libya into an Islamic state.

    It is an important distinction, experts on those groups said. Additionally, al Qaida’s role, if any, in the attack has not been determined, and Logan’s narration offered no source for her repeated assertion that it had been."

    I thought that was the most interesting part of the CBS snow job.

    I'd love to know why she ignored the one fact and over-played the other. Someone should investigate it.

  16. Asking questions as Judge Andrew Napolitano did in a recent broadcast on his now cancelled daily show may very well be the reason behind his recent dismissal from Fox. Though specific details are hard to come by because the Judge has yet to give any interviews on the matter, it’s believed that his refusal to bow to commonly manufactured media narratives is among one of several key reasons he his no longer with the network.

    The following 5-Minute Speech that Got Napolitano Fired from Fox News is one that should not only be forwarded and shared with every single man, woman and child in this country, but taught and expounded upon in every social studies, civics and government class from first grade through college.

  17. There's little if any question that Benghazi was a trumped up "scandal," part of the right-wing mania to get Obama.
    (Benghazi was a CiA operation, and the initial "talking points" were prepared by the CIA.)

    There's also little question but that the mainstream media has played along, much to its discredit.

    When Dan Rather reported on the "documents" that "proved " George W. Bush never fulfilled his military service requirement to the Texas Air National Guard, the right wingers went crazy, and demanded rather be fired. Although the documents used by CBS then were not authenticated, it is true that Bush never fulfilled his military obligations. And Rather was let go.

    Lara Logan is a pretty face. A "star" at CBS and 60 Minutes. But her reporting on Benghazi was shoddy, at best. Her "apology" was egregiously short on explanation. And the right wing has said nothing.

    Logan should cough up the details; she should make public why her "reporting" was so bad. And if she doesn't, she should be terminated by CBS and 60 Minutes.

    But don't hold your breath.

    1. She should be terminated and all involved in that "report" for not thoroughly checking out the primary source before putting his fantasy about being there on the air.

      That is far worse than Rather relying on copies of decades-old documents that couldn't be authenticated. And that was bad.

      But . . . bullshit from one side doesn't excuse bullshit from the other side. And Rice spread a bullshit story. And no, "best assessment today" is no excuse for bullshit.

    2. The "bullshit story" was described as being the best information currently available, i.e. the then-current opinion of official US intelligence services.

      And whether or not it turned out to to correct or incorrect on the facts, it was, indeed the current opinion of official US intelligence services!

      So, asshole, your beef is with NSA/CIA, not with Rice/Obama.

    3. And it doesn't even appear to be wrong.